Family reunification in Portugal (family visa)

Move to Portugal with your family with a D visa, or use the 98.2 immigration law article to reunite within the country.
7 min
May 23, 2023
Which family members are eligible for family reunification?
  • The spouse
  • Children under 18 years
  • Children over 18 already studying at a Portuguese school or university
  • Adopted children
  • Siblings under your official custody
  • Parents under 65 years if you are their legal guardian
  • Parents over 65 years

What options exist?

If you move to Portugal with a D visa, you can also request accompanying visas for the whole family in the Portuguese Consulate.

However, your family can come to Portugal with a tourist visa (or a visa-free regime) and reunite with you in Portugal.

What does a typical process look like

✅ Step 1. You get a D visa or residence permit.

Obtain business registration, invoices, and tax documents. Gather information on your source of income, bank statements, and taxes paid for at least three months before the application to demonstrate your commitment to the consulate.

✅ Step 2. Book an appointment with the immigration office.
Call +351-217-115-000 and schedule a visit for each relative. Unfortunately, waiting for SEF to drop appointments for the 98.2 article may take a long time.

✅ Step 3. Your family applies for residentship at SEF.
Upon arrival in Portugal, apply at the SEF. Simply arrive on the designated date and provide the necessary documents. You're almost there!

✅ Step 4. They get residence permits.
Your family members will receive their ID cards via mail within 2-12 weeks after visiting S

Follow our step-by-step guide

Step 1. Prepare the necessary documents

What are the documents required for 98.2?

Family members must submit documents providing their relationship with the principal applicant.

According to Portuguese regulations, such documents as birth and marriage certificates are valid six months after the issue date.

All documents must be apostilled and notary translated into Portuguese.

  • Birth certificate to reunite with a parent (with apostille, translated into Portuguese)
  • Marriage certificate to reunite with a spouse (with apostille, translated into Portuguese)
  • If someone has changed their name, they need to provide official evidence (with apostille, translated into Portuguese)

Translate and certify the docs for the SEF within Portugal with local lawyers. It is more reliable.

Step 2. Get a police criminal record

All applicants over 16 must provide a certificate of no criminal record from their country of citizenship and any countries where they have lived for more than a year after age 16.

Obtaining the Certificate: Request the certificate in paper format from your country, then obtain an apostille, translate it into Portuguese, and have it notarized by a notary. It is better to order the document as soon as possible and start gathering other required documents while it is being processed.

Validity: The validity of a certificate depends on the country of issuance and can range from 30 to 90 days. If you have a criminal record, it is recommended that you seek the advice of a lawyer. The specific offense and the time since the conviction may impact the decision regarding your visa.

Translation and Notarization: Remember to translate the certificate into Portuguese and have it notarized before submitting it to the consulate or VFS.

Here are some examples of popular countries.

Step 3. Get a NIF (tax number)

The NIF (Número de Identificação Fiscal) is a Portuguese tax number and the first thing you should get if you plan to immigrate to Portugal. Whether you will study, work or start your own company here. A NIF is a universal number you need when applying for any documents. The NIF number need for more often than the passport number.

You will need the following documents:

  • A copy of your passport or id
  • Proof of address outside of Portugal, from your "home country" (a bank statement will do)

There are different ways to get your NIF number depending on if you are an EU/EEA citizen or not, whether you’re applying remotely or in person. You can get a NIF yourself and for free in Portugal. Or you can get it online if you are in another country. The service does not cost more than €100-120 usually.

1. Get your NIF remotely and online.

You can get a NIF before you arrive in Portugal to save time to solve other problems, rent an apartment, or open a bank account. The NIF process takes 3 to 10 business days and costs from €89 to €120, depending on the type of service. We can be your representative and get a NIF for you.

2. Get your NIF in person

The default way of getting a NIF number is to go to your closest Finanças (Portuguese tax office) and apply for it in person. This path is completely free. Non-EU/EEA residents used to need a tax representative in order to apply for and maintain a NIF. But from July 2022 this is no longer needed, but it can still make the process of obtaining the NIF easier.

Get NIF, NISS and etc. online and remotely
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Step 4.  Prepare the lease agreement

For a D visa, providing a long-term lease agreement is essential. The SEF ignores an apartment's cost, size, or location.  But we do not recommend using false documents – the SEF can selectively check applicants.

Where to find an apartment?

Try to monitor local lease sites. Hiring an agent is not obligatory, but a professional may help ease the search and communication with the landlord.

Some useful websites

Long-term rental:

Try also:

Some platforms charge a commission, but the contract could be terminated at any time if you do not plan to live in rented housing. SEF accepts such agreements.

Airbnb offers just short-term accommodation offers. So we don't recommend using it for applying for residentship. In Portugal, you must prove your trustworthiness with resumes, essays, income statements, and work contracts to your potential landlord.

Documents you need to rent an apartment:

  • Documents for landlord
    Prepare income statements, contracts, and even a motivational letter about why you want to live in particular and how you will pay for it.
  • A landlord might ask you for a guarantor
    Some owners require a guarantor who lives and works in Portugal (they usually ask for an IRS declaration). If you don't have a guarantor, then it could be circumvented by offering to pay several months of rent in advance or several deposits at once (in the amount of a monthly rent)
  • Landlords pay for agent services
    However, some agents may want to keep the commission private from your agent, which may affect your ability to view apartments. To avoid this issue, we recommend offering the agent an additional fee to negotiate with other agents.
  • Ask your landlord to register the agreement
    The lease agreement must be registered in Finanças (tax office). Do not agree to stay illegally. It may cause problems for both sides. For the lease agreement, you need NIF and a bank account.

The lease agreement is a must

For family reunification, it is essential to provide a long-term lease agreement. The SEF ignores an apartment's cost, size, or location. But we do not recommend using false documents at all - the SEF can selectively check applicants.

Is a one-year contract a must? Can I rent something just for a couple of months?

We always advise signing a one-year lease agreement to show serious intentions to live in Portugal. If you are still choosing but need a contract to apply for a residentship, use and cancel the lease anytime without losing money.

Do you need a Portuguese bank account to pay the rent?

A Portuguese bank account with a large amount of money will certainly increase your value to your landlord. However, you can transfer your rent from any bank account to your landlord's account. If you want to pay cash, you can go to a landlord's bank and request a bank employee to deposit the money by bank transfer.

Step 5. Confirm the principal applicant's residence permit

What do you need?

In this step, you must prepare proof that the principal applicant still has a valid resident permit and can officially reunify family members.

What documents are required?

  • ID card (Título de Residência) of the principal applicant's
  • Proof of sufficient amount of money in the bank account of the principal applicant
  • If the residence permit is obtained based on employment, you must provide payroll receipts from the principal applicant's job

NIF and NISS are not binding documents for family members. However, if you submit them to the SEF, those numbers will be printed on the backside of the card. This is convenient.

Step 6. Prove a sufficient amount of money for the whole family

You must show enough savings for all family members in your bank account.

For reunification, you need an additional 50% of the minimum annual wage for your spouse or any adult relative (0,5 × €760 × 12 months) and 30% for each child under 18 (0.3 × €760 × 12 months).

For example, to reunify one spouse and one child, you need to show in your bank account €16416 (€9120 for you + 4560 for spouse + 2736 for child). This is a minimum amount for one year ahead. However, our practice says the more you show, the better.

Also,  you must show your marriage and children's birth certificates. All documents must be apostilled and notary translated into Portuguese.

Step 7. Apply for family reunification in SEF

You are ready to submit your documents to the immigration office

Make an appointment at the consulate or VFS and apply. In some countries (for example, Brazil or USA), you can send all your documents by mail.

  • If you apply in person, arriving 15-20 minutes before the appointed time is better.
  • If you apply in person, bringing minor children to SEF is obligatory too. They must be photographed and fingerprinted as well.
  • The SEF application process usually takes up to 1 hour.

Check youself

  • Passport
  • Application form
  • Principal applicants' residence permit
  • Portuguese bank account statement
  • Portuguese lease contract for one year
  • Police clearance certificate from your country
  • Airplane ticket
  • Motivation letter

Want to be sure everything is ok with your application, documents and motivation letter? Check it with an attorney.

Step 8. Get your residence permit card

About two to twelve weeks after your SEF appointment, you will receive an envelope in the mail containing your residence permit card, which will be valid for 2 years.

Do you need help?

If you plan to move to Portugal, Spain, or another European country, contact us if you need expert help:

See more details here. 

Got a question? Contact us!

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